SENATE GOP AIMS TO STREAMLINE KEY VETERANS PROGRAM — A group of Senate Republicans is hoping to streamline a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program allowing veterans to receive non-VA care, suggesting that bureaucratic hurdles are keeping veterans from getting timely healthcare. “I’ve heard from many veterans in North Carolina who tell me that they are still experiencing significant frustrations and delay in getting health care,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). “My legislation cuts down on the bureaucratic delays, hassles and confusion that is standing in between veterans and the healthcare they need.” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) are expected to co-sponsor Burr’s bill.
VA CONVENES SUMMIT WITH VETERANS ADVOCATES TO FIX APPEALS PROCESS — Top officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs will meet this week with leaders from several leading veterans’ service organizations, seeking common ground on a legislative proposal that would overhaul the appeals process for veterans’ compensation claims. In budget testimony last week, VA officials told lawmakers the appeals process set in federal law is “archaic and unresponsive.” But they want the buy-in of veterans’ advocacy groups before they send Congress any formal plan to streamline the process. “We’re gonna lock everybody in a room, we’re gonna slip food under the door and no one’s coming out until we have something written down that everybody agrees with and that you can pass immediately,” Secretary Bob McDonald told the House Appropriations Committee last week.
THE MANSLAUGHTER CASE AGAINST A DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS NURSING ASSISTANT HAS BECOME FODDER FOR THE VA’S CONGRESSIONAL CRITICS — ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — Hospital officials called it an accident when a 70-year-old psychiatric patient was fatally injured in an altercation with a nursing assistant at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in central Louisiana three years ago. But the case became fodder for the VA’s congressional critics after local prosecutors charged the employee, 54-year-old Fredrick Kevin Harris, with manslaughter in the death of Air Force veteran Charles Lee Johnson. Johnson died a year before a national scandal erupted over chronic delays for veterans seeking medical care. The deadly encounter has drawn the Alexandria VA Health Care System into a broader conflict between the VA and its Republican opponents, who complain the agency has fired few workers for poor performance. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has pressed VA officials to explain why they haven’t fired Harris, who has remained on the payroll while awaiting trial.
EMDR THERAPY: WHY LOOKING LEFT-TO-RIGHT REPEATEDLY COULD BANISH TRAUMATIC MEMORIES — What if we told you that distressing memories could be wiped away by moving your eyes from left to right, over and over again? While it might sound like something out of a modern day Sci-Fi film, there is a very real therapy – available on the NHS – which helps people deal with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and stress, in this way. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. During a typical session, a client will be asked to target a particularly distressing memory. They will then be encouraged to move their eyes from left to right. The therapy has been used to treat people who have gone through incredibly traumatic events – including a PTSD sufferer who was on the same carriage as a 7/7 bomber and the mother of a murder victim.